Not authorized, but is it legal?

Now shipping

AAUGH Blog reader Debbie Anne pointed out to me the announcement of this curious upcoming volume, Charlie and Friends in Tip Top Comics – The Dell Series Reader Collection. This is a reprint of original Peanuts stories that appeared in the Tip Top series, and will be available in black-and-white and color editions … and hey, wait, didn’t Boom! just put those in a nice big full color hardcover book? Yes they did. (And that Boom! book is a much better deal for a lower price at this point, with many more pages. These guys are saying their still missing a couple of story pages they want to reprint) So the Peanuts folks are licensing this competing edition? No… but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s illegal.

The publisher, Gwandanaland Comics, seems to have discovered something I noticed when I looked into it years ago. To the best of my not-a-lawyerly abilities, it looked like United Feature, the syndicate which held the copyright on these original tales (and owned Peanuts outright for most of its run) never renewed their copyrights. Y’see, for works originally published in the US before 1964, copyright only lasted 28 years. If, after 28 years, the copyright owner renewed the copyright, they got a lot more years… but there was a limited window when renewals could take place. As the 28 year terms were running out on these in the 1980s, United Feature wasn’t (to the best of my ability to detect), renewing them. That doesn’t mean that other intellectual property protection doesn’t apply to it – notice how the cover never uses the term “Peanuts” or “Snoopy”, and says “Charlie and Friends” but not “Charlie Brown”; those terms are still trademarked.

If Peanuts Worldwide wanted to put a halt to this, would they have a way to, using, say, the separate copyright that exists on the characters? I really don’t know, I’m not a lawyer… but there are enough DVDs out there of things like the public domain Superman cartoons that I assume it would not be a slam-dunk case.

By the way, that “cheap B&W edition, very expensive color edition” gambit makes it pretty clear that this is a print-on-demand item. (That’s not a complaint; I do plenty of print-on-demand publishing myself.)

The same publisher offers a collection issues of this Tip Top run including not just the Peanuts material but other material as well (notably Nancy and Sluggo) n both black and white and color.

Note: this post has been updated; originally it said that the book had not yet been released, but it was released on the day this was posted.

Now shipping
If you love Schulz, but English, not so much…

Just out in Japan is the Japanese edition of Charles M. Schulz: The Art and Life of the Peanuts Creator in 100 Objects, the Eisner Award-winning, Schulz Museum-published heavily illustrated book co-written by curator Benjamin L. Clark and myself! And yes, it can be shipped to the States… although it …

A Charlie Brown Christmas
A quote unquote requote book on A Charlie Brown Christmas

How can you tell that the new book “A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Timeless Tale of Joy and Meaning”: Unwrapping the True Spirit of the Holiday Season with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the Peanuts Gang” is truly an innovative work? It’s the quotation marks in the title.  Not constrained by …

Now shipping
Snoopy’s Book Café

Peanuts collector Lisa, who had been showing all her finds from a recent trip to Japan, started showing off one of the Re-Ment sets of little kits that combine to make a diorama. They do lovely work, but Peanuts statuary is not what I collect, and besides, these are Japanese …